I’m a recovering perfectionist.

The Issue

So much of my life has been defined by an ill-defined concept, simply an innate desire, an uncontemplated need. Suffocating me. Eating me alive like a parasite.

The need to be perfect. The inevitable downfall. The self-flagellation.

Rinse and repeat.

It made sense to me. I believed that the constant pain of Being was a product of being incomplete (I’m not entirely sure if it is or isn’t, but that’s beside the point.) A perpetual need for something, screaming louder than everything. It seemed logical to me that satiation of that need would come with fulfillment, and complete fulfillment (and thus complete satiation of the need) would come with perfection; therefore, the only way to end the pain of Being would be to become perfect.

That thought process, as you can imagine, was problematic.

“I will be perfect.” That was my mantra. I would hold myself to that standard; I would not commit a single moral mistake, not a single lapse in virtue. Inevitably, I would lapse in virtue. Fall victim to my vices. Exaggerate or tell a small (or moderate) lie. Make an excessively vulgar joke. Fall victim to lust. My immediate response would be to self-flagellate into oblivion. “I am disgusting. I hate myself. I want to be dead.” Eventually, my ego would recover, and I would once again say “I was imperfect, but I will be (completely, from this point onward) perfect.” Lapse. Self-flagellate. Recover and re-dedicate. Lapse. Self-flagellate. Recover and rededicate. Rinse and repeat.

The Revelation

Shortly after I posted my rambling on actualization, I came to realize that self-flagellating neuroticism causes a person (myself) to anti-actualize. Ironic. My pursuit of actualization was causing me to decay.

Self-disgust turns to contempt if you marinate in it long enough. I was.

Because of that revelation, I’ve been attempting to take more gradual steps. Maybe I can go a day without falling victim to this vice. Okay, let’s try a week. A week passes, try two weeks. A month. Lapse? Well, I made it further than last time, and perhaps I’m better than I was even before then.

I believe this was from Jordan Peterson’s 12 Rules, though I could be mistaken. I think the axiom was “compare yourself to who you were yesterday, not to who others are today.”

I find that lowering the immediate standards I set for myself and doing away with (most) of the self-flagellating behavior has also lowered the amount of disgust and contempt I marinate in. I can forgive myself and try again; no longer possessing the subconscious belief that I am my vices. I do not disgust myself, my vices disgust me, and the fact that I am attempting to overcome them is virtuous and therefore deserving of admiration and dignity on my part. The end goal may be perfection, but perfection seems to be a gradual incline, as opposed to a cliff to climb.

It wouldn’t be a stretch to say that treating myself with dignity could be virtuous.

The need for fulfillment is still there, the endless pain of Being. Maybe I can progressively find more fulfillment as the days and months go on. Maybe completion is not the goal, so much as simply enough to satiate the dread, enough to keep any distress related to the arbitrary nature of human existence at bay.

Hindrances

That being said, I feel like there are so many things in life that fulfill necessary psychological needs, but hinder actualization. Take the poster-boy ‘time waster’ of video games. Video games are a form of recreational enjoyment just as reading is; reading is equally as pleasurable and pleasant for most people, but there’s far more friction involving reading. (Friction meaning difficulty starting to read; it’s so much easier to boot up a game than pick up a book. For some reason.

Another example could be certain television shows produced for entertainment and consumption as opposed to something informative. Another could be podcasts; some are entirely meaningless garbage meant for consumption and some you can actually learn from. The list goes on and on.

Too many of my pastimes are meaningless and waste my life and hinder my actualization. I hate it. Maybe it’s one of the reasons I’ve been sitting in self-contempt for so long; attempting to cut them all out completely has failed time and time again. I need to walk before I can run; maybe I’ll try getting rid of one small pastime and picking up one small productive one, and see how that goes.

Sigh. There’s only one real way to see where this road leads, I suppose. I don’t reckon I’ll be posting regular “installments” on my path to actualization because personal monologues aren’t… right for this website, I guess, unless they’re under a miscellany header.

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